Jews and Greeks and Wisdom Part 7 of 7 (series: Lessons on 1st Co.)
by John Lowe
both Jews and Greeks,
The meaning here is “all men,” regardless of race or nation, time or circumstance.
Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
Jesus Christ is "the power of God"; except for the Jews, who stumbled over his weakness, his sufferings and death, even the death of the cross; which were experienced by him as a man of flesh and blood. Here, he is revealed to be God the Son; he is Mighty, the Almighty, which is apparent from his works of creation and divine intervention; he is called the power of God; which is clearly seen by his bearing all the sins of his people in his own body, on the tree, the cross upon which he was crucified, and all the punishment that lead up to it; and yet he didn’t fail, and he wasn’t discouraged, nor did he give out physically, until he had satisfied the law perfectly, and put an end to sin, and reconciled us to God. On the cross, he destroyed death, the devil, principalities, and powers; he redeemed his people from all their sins; he abolishing death by raising himself from the dead; all which show him to be the power of God, or to be possessed of Almighty power; for these are things which a mere creature could never have done. And he is "the wisdom of God", since he is the wise Creator and Governor of the universe. We see in him the wisdom of God in the way in which he has provided salvation for men. They see that the plan is wise. They see it to be sufficient to procure pardon, and sanctification, and eternal life. They see that there is a beauty in his character; an excellence in his doctrines; and an effectiveness in his atonement, to secure their salvation. We may say about this verse:
(1) that when men become Christians, their hearts are changed. The views of Christians are diametrically opposite to those of other men. To one class, Christ is a stumbling-block; to others, foolishness; to Christians, he is full of beauty.
(2) All Christians have similar views of the Savior. It doesn’t matter whether they were Jew or Greek; it doesn’t matter whether they were born in a northern or southern climate, they have the same views of the Savior. They see him to be the power and the wisdom of God.
(3) There is real effectiveness in the plan of salvation. It is a scheme of power, and it is able to accomplish the great plans of God.
(4) Christ crucified is God's answer to both Jew and Greek and the answer is understood by those with open minds.
25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
Christ on the cross appeared to be weakness in the eyes of people; but that "weakness of God was stronger than men and everything that men could produce." The sign-seeking Jews could not comprehend the mighty "sign of the prophet Jonah," even though Christ’s death and resurrection took place before their very eyes; and the wisdom-seeking Greeks could not detect the most profound wisdom in all history, not even after it had been preached to them! Despite this, however, the rolling centuries have vindicated the truth which Paul proclaimed here.
Because the foolishness of God
Not that there is any such thing as "foolishness" in God, nor the least degree of weakness in him; but the apostle means that which the men of the world regard as foolishness and weakness, and therefore, with tongue in cheek, he assigns them to God. By this he means either Christ, who, as crucified, is deemed foolishness; however, he "is wiser than men"; wiser even than Solomon, who was wiser than all men; what's more, Christ is greater than he in wisdom, having all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge in him: or he means Christ’s act of redemption by the blood of his cross, which is considered an outrageous instance of foolishness, despite the fact that there is such a display of wisdom that it surpasses all the wisdom of men and angels. There is nothing wrong with God’s plan of Salvation; the problem is the mind of unbelievers, which has not been enlightened by the Holy Spirit, and therefore they don’t see the wisdom of the plan or reason God does what He does.
is wiser than men;
The things that God has done, which seem foolish to men, are infinitely beyond the highest degree of human wisdom; and those works of God, which appear weak and contemptible to frivolous observers, surpasses all the efforts of human power. The means which God has chosen for the salvation of men are so wise and so powerful, that all that use them properly are saved and conveyed by the Holy Spirit into a blessed relationship with Jesus Christ, which he has promised to them who believe and obey.
God’ methods are well adapted to accomplish His plans, and they are certainly more effective than the schemes of human wisdom. This is especially true of the plan of salvation—a plan apparently foolish to the lion's share of men, but without a doubt, it has accomplished more for the conversion of men, and for their decency and happiness, than all the schemes that humans have contrived. They have accomplished nothing useful towards men's salvation, but this accomplishes everything. They have always failed; this never falls.
and the weakness of God,
There is really no weakness in God, any more than there is foolishness. Therefore, this must mean the things He has decreed in heaven, which to mere men appear weak and insufficient to accomplish His purposes. The facts, as they appear are—that God seeks to save the world by Jesus of Nazareth, who was supposedly unable to save himself, (See Matthew 27:40-43); and that He expected to save men by the gospel, by its being preached by men who were without learning, eloquence, wealth, fame, or power. The instruments were feeble; and in the judgment of men, it was due to the weakness or lack of power in the God who decreed them.
According to the Jews, Christ’s crucifixion was due to weakness" (See 2 Corinthians 13:4), and yet He is able to perfect strength out of the weakness of His servants (1 Corinthians 2: 3, 2 Corinthians 12:9 ). Those methods of divine conduct that arrogant men are likely to condemn as unwise and weak have more true, solid, and successful wisdom in them, than all the learning and wisdom that is among men: "You see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called, (v. 26).
Matt 27:40-43 (KJV) And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.
2 Cor 13:4 (KJV) For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.
1 Cor 2:3 (KJV) And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
2 Cor 12:9 (KJV) And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
is stronger than men.
The weakness of God, though such a thing is impossible, is able to accomplish more than the greatest power men can design. The feeblest activity that God puts forth—so feeble that it might be deemed weakness—is able to accomplish more than the greatest might of man. The apostle here is referring particularly to the work of redemption, but it is true everywhere. We may remark:
1. That God often accomplishes his mightiest works by that which seems to men to be weak, and even foolish. The greatest revolutions the world has known have often had the most insignificant causes; God’s vast operations are often associated with very feeble methods. The upheaval of empires; the tragic effects of deadly diseases; advancements in the sciences and arts; and the operations of nature, are often brought about by means that are apparently as unsuited for accomplishing the work as those which are employed in the plan of redemption.
2. That God is great. If his feeblest powers surpass the mightiest powers of man, imagine how great His mightiest powers must be! If the powers of man, who creates works of art, who levels mountains and elevates valleys—and if the power which built the pyramids—are like nothing when compared with the feeblest efforts of Divine power, how mighty must be his arm be! How vast is that strength which keeps the sun, moon, stars, and planets in their proper place in the sky! How safe are his people in his hand! And how easy for him to crush all his foes in death.
Think about this: He has brought salvation for his people, which is something neither men nor angels could ever have done; and He did it with the Gospel of Christ, which is condemned as foolishness and weakness, despite having infinitely more wisdom in it, than is to be found in the best ideas of the wisest philosophers; and has had a greater influence on the minds and behavior of men than their ideas ever had; it is the manifold wisdom of God, and the power of God unto salvation.